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Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology



Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology & the Ancient World
Brown University
Box 1837 / 60 George Street
Providence, RI 02912
Telephone: (401) 863-3188
Fax: (401) 863-9423
[email protected]

Saint Anthony the Great (251-356) is regarded as the leader of the "Desert Fathers." He is an extremely important figure in Coptic monasticism. While he was not the first Christian monk by any means, he was one of the first (if not the first) to practice monasticism in the desert, completely cut off from civilization. He lived a difficult and secluded life, which distinguishes him from other monks. Eventually, his lifestyle attracted a number of followers, called ascetics. These disciples lived in caves, called cells, near his, forming a sort of colony. In 305 AD, he emerged from his seclusion, after over twenty years of isolation. He accumulated a large number of monks who followed his religious advice, but it is important to note that he did not actively seek out followers. Although the main principle of this lifestyle was isolation, these monks were by no means completely cut off from society in an intellectual sense - they produced prodigious numbers of religious texts, though Anthony himself left no writings. His life's work was recorded by Alexandrian Athanasius in the "Life of Anthony" in 360 AD.

Posted at Nov 30/2010 04:14PM:
ian: Nothing really for me to add.